Food and Education

Food and Education

Morsel of Love-A Film by Akshaya Patra

A Morsel of Love

Morsel of Love-A Film by Akshaya Patra

Akshaya Patra in its constant effort to spread the word about the cause and create awareness has produced a film titled ‘Morsel of Love’, as a part of its ongoing campaign Hungry For School. The film carries a message: When so much love is invested in preparing the food, it’s bound to taste good. The main protagonists of the film are the employees of The Akshaya Patra Foundation and a beneficiary student of the mid-day meal programme.

When a mother cooks for her children the food is certain to taste good as the main ingredients are love and care. At Akshaya Patra we believe that every child we feed deserves food that is as good. This film showcases the efforts and diligence put forth by the employees to ensure that each morsel the children take is filled with love.

Akshaya Patra is a not-for-profit organisation that implements Mid-Day Meal Scheme in partnership with the Government of India and the State Governments in 23 locations across 10 states, reaching out to 1.4 Million children from 10,661 Government and Government aided schools.

If you like the film, please share it amongst your friends and help spread the message about the foundation’s cause.

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Food and Education

Spread the word about #HungryForSchool


Confess! How many hours a day do you spend on social media? Even if you’re in a self-imposed exile, the temptation to take a quick peek at a friend’s picture on Instagram or Facebook, or read your favourite celebrity’s tweet is simply irresistible. Whether we accept it or not, whether we like it or claim not to like it, we’re all clocking hours on the social scene. That gave us an idea – why not put all those hours to good use? Why not use it to spread the word about #HungryForSchool.

Our plan is really simple. Every day when you log in to your favourite social media website, send out a small message to all your friends – using the hash tag #HungryForSchool.

It could be about your feelings towards children going hungry every day. It could be about people wasting food when there are millions in need of it. Or it could be about education. Or progress. Or the country’s future. Or even ideas that could help us reach out to more children. Express yourself, move others to action and work towards change.

We’re listening to each one of you, and paying close attention to each message that comes in with the hash tag. Through a concerted effort we can make this an empowering movement. Let us all work towards the same goal – feeding and educating India’s future. Let us spread the word about #HungryForSchool.

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Food and Education

A morsel of love: The making of Akshaya Patra’s new film


This article has been written by one of the crew members who shot the new film for us.

Akshaya Patra. I wasn’t unfamiliar with this organisation or the work it did. But I was completely unprepared for the extreme professionalism, hospitality and diligence I saw that day. Our film was to be shot at the Akshaya Patra kitchens, recording the lives and work of the employees there. So with minimum disruption to their everyday routine, we set to work.

7 a.m.

Our crew started prepping for the shoot. The rich aromas of freshly cooked meals wafted up to our location. A huge cauldron of piping hot kesari bath was brought up to be shot. A team of Akshaya Patra employees were on standby, ready to help us with anything we needed.

8 a.m.

As the first batch of employees got off duty (we were surprised to learn that they came in at 3 a.m.), we got on with our work. The women we shot were shy, sweet-natured and sensitive to the plight of the children they were serving. They were all eager to help in their own little ways.

10 a.m.

The shoot was progressing well, and so was the regular day at Akshaya Patra. Despite the lights, camera and other equipment, the employees went about their duties, unperturbed, undisturbed. Huge trays of vegetables were brought in and the women staff went about chopping them up for the next day’s meal.

12 p.m.

After our first two shots, we decided to shift location. We had to go shoot at a school where Akshaya Patra served meals. After the calm, serene environment of the kitchens, the school was buzzing with high energy! Children were excitedly preparing for the upcoming Independence Day parade. And as it drew closer to the lunch hour, they seemed to get more and more restless.

1 p.m.

The bell went off for the lunch break, and the children thronged towards the lunch area. Despite being hungry, they queued up and waited their turn.

3 p.m.

Our star, who we chose to feature in the film was a natural. Her vivacious nature lit up every scene, and it was a sheer joy to see her eat with such relish. She chatted happily about her friends, how she loved coming to school, and most importantly, how much she loved the lunch she got at school. When the bell rang to mark the end of the day, she waved goodbye and ran over to her grandmother, already chattering away about her filmy experiences.

4 p.m.

We went back to Akshaya Patra and had a late lunch (Oh! Those puris!) before resuming work.

6 p.m.

As we approached the end of the day, a tired hush fell over the kitchens. The food cookers heaved a huge sigh of steam as they were switched off for the day. The staff had made all their preparations for the next day’s meal and was leaving. Even we were ready to wrap up.

7 p.m.

We took our last shot, thanked the women for their cooperation and packed up for the day. Each one of us was truly inspired by the good work done in those kitchens.

As we drove back, we were deep in thought – thinking of all the stories we heard that day. Without a doubt, there was a lot of love that went into making every meal at Akshaya Patra. I wish them all the best and hope this film gets them the support they need.

To watch the video, click here.

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Food and Education

Feed a girl’s dreams


This week, we focus on the girl child. She is often neglected, underestimated and relegated to the background. She is expected to give way to her brothers, even if she is smarter by a mile. Often, when the family faces a financial crisis, she is the one expected to drop out of school, and fend for herself. Akshaya Patra has played a crucial role in the lives of many such young girls. By providing them with a free mid-day meal at school, we’ve given them their aspirations back. We’ve helped feed many a young girl’s dreams. Here are a few inspiring stories of young girls who with a little help from us, beat the odds and get educated every day.

Tough, intelligent and mild-mannered, Meghashree is someone who knows her goals. She wishes to become a Software Engineer someday. She has a single mother who struggles to send her three children to school, and Meghashree knows only too well the importance of studying hard and getting a scholarship. Even at her young age, she does not want her mother to feel burdened by her dreams, or with the responsibility of providing for her. She says that the mid-day meal provided at school eases the pressure on her mother a bit, and gives her the energy to keep going.

Her young shoulders carry the burden of her whole family. After Shyamala’s mother died, she started cooking for her father and brother, but sometimes, she has to ask her aunt for food. However, her father ensured that the children are enrolled in school. There they have a filling, nutritious mid-day meal every day. Her dream is to get a stable job and look after her family.

“I want to be a Police Officer when I grow up and throw all the thieves in prison”, exclaims Suchismita, when asked about her ambition. She comes from a family of limited means, and school is a way of out her current situation. The teachers like her for being sweet natured, and say that she has a keen interest in Social Sciences and English. For Suchismita and her sibling, the food they provide at school is a huge blessing, and her favourites are soya bean and matar paneer!

It is heart-warming stories like these that push us to redouble our efforts to provide food for education to children in need. Help us raise awareness and support for our cause by sharing this article and our other work with your friends and family.

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Food and Education

Converting efforts to a million smiles


The Akshaya Patra Foundation provides free mid-day meals to 1.4 million children from economically challenged sections in 23 locations across India. Each day, every employee at this organisation is aware of the fact that his or her efforts will be converted into a million smiles the next morning. The cooks at the Akshaya Patra kitchens devote themselves to the job mainly because they work for children. One such dedicated member of the organisation is Saudamini Sahoo from Odisha.

Saudamini is a cook at the Nayagarh decentralised kitchen in Odisha. She learnt about the kitchen when it was launched in March 2007. She was keen on working with us ever since, and finally got the chance about a year and a half ago. She is best known for her adherence to the organisation’s safety practices which earned her the opportunity to share them with her fellow-cooks. In June 2013, she led a training session on quality, safety and hygiene conducted at the kitchen internally.

Her day-to-day work involves maintaining cleanliness in the kitchen, cooking the mid-day meal and serving it to the school children. Not only is she a good cook famous for her sumptuous dishes, but is also known for her affection towards children. That is why her presence brings smiles around. Her kheer (Indian sweet dish) and potato pea curry are a popular delicacy among the kids.

Saudamini’s Rangoli (traditional Indian patterns and designs hand-made on the floor usually at the entrance of a structure) in the kitchen is by far the best and always beautiful. Rangolis are an inherent part of rural culture in Odisha and people like Saudamini take great pride in keeping the tradition alive.

Saudamini hails from the village of Madhupur in the Khandapada block in Nayagarh district. Her husband, Birendra Kumar Sahoo is a tailor while her eldest son works at a water packaging company in Bhubaneshwar. Her younger son is in Standard X and her daughter, the youngest in the family is in Standard IV. Saudamini dreams of being recognised as the best cook in Nayagarh. And we at Akshaya Patra hope to help her make that dream come true soon!

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Engage With UsFood and Education

Akshaya Patra welcomes Bill Clinton


The Akshaya Patra Foundation was visited by a very distinguished guest on 16 July, 2014! Former US President Bill Clinton, accompanied by Gururaj Deshpande, Abhay Jain and 25 delegates, stopped by the Akshaya Patra kitchen at Jaipur during his visit to India.

The kitchen is a part of the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) commitment between the Deshpande Foundation, Ravindra Chamaria and the Government of India made in 2008, to provide $7 million dollars toward scaling up the Akshaya Patra mid-day meal programme.

At the kitchen Mr Clinton was taken through the operations process and shown how the kitchen produces 250,000 rotis (Indian flat bread), 6 tonnes of dal (lentils) and 5 tonnes of rice on every school day, in just three hours!

Clinton with his delegation spent an hour touring the kitchen and then visited the nearby Government Praveshika Sanskrit Vidhyalaya (Government Secondary Sanskrit School) at Sanganer where he received a warm welcome by the students. He helped serve the mid-day meal to the children, and spent some time interacting with them.

Impressed with the work undertaken by the organisation Clinton said, “I want to thank all of the students and teachers for the warm welcome. Cooking and distribution of food is a commendable effort and this is a remarkable partnership between the government, private sector business community and non-government organisation. Such a huge quantity of food prepared and served in efficient, healthy and sanitary manner is unbelievable.”

Clinton saw firsthand the impact of what good nutrition can do for the cognitive development of children. He and his delegates were amazed to see two tenth standard students from the school solving a complex mathematical calculation using the Nikhilam method of Vedic Maths, completing it even before even Deshpande could finish on his calculator. So impressed was he with their skill that Clinton asked Akshaya Patra to contact his Foundation for any assistance needed with their education in the future.

Explaining why the mid-day meal programme is so important to him, Clinton says, “I think that one of the great challenges of the 21st century everywhere, is to prove that we can create an inclusive democracy. And that’s not just political inclusion but economic and social inclusion. The programme we visited today is one that has been a big part of my Clinton Global Initiative. We try to raise more and more money for it. I think these sort of feeding programmes are very often overlooked by the political system and yet they have the greatest potential to do good. If I can help galvanize action [toward the cause] it actually saves lives and creates a whole different set of futures for these children.”

The Clinton Foundation under the CGI helps raise awareness and funding for Akshaya Patra from corporates and other agencies to help the organisation run the mid-day meal programme. “This is the finest commitment made by the Clinton Foundation in its 10 years of existence. It is wonderful,” said Clinton, eager for more organisations to support the programme.

Clinton also thanked Caterpillar Foundation for their donation of $2 million toward Akshaya Patra that will be used to feed another 100,000 children in Lucknow.

Clinton’s visit to The Akshaya Patra Foundation marks a proud moment in history for the organisation and we look forward to welcoming him back to India soon. In the meantime we wish the Clinton Global Initiative all the very best in their endeavours for the future.

Information sourced from: The Clinton Foundation, The Times of India, Deccan Herald, The Hindu, and NDTV.

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Food and Education

Words from a happy beneficiary


Dear Aunty/Uncle,

How are you? I am fine, thank you. My name is Rani. I am studying in the 10th standard. We do not know each other, but I thank you from the bottom of my heart for changing my life forever.

I come from a small village outside Bangalore. My parents moved to the city to find work, leaving behind their farms. It was not easy at all. My father found work on a construction site and my mother works in other people’s houses. Even I had to do small-small jobs to earn money. There was no other way. How would we eat otherwise? I thought moving to a big city meant that I could go to school. But it looked like an impossible dream.

Then one day, we heard about this school that feeds children. I begged my parents to consider sending me to school now. After all, their burden would be reduced, right? After much pleading, they finally agreed. And I started going to school. My first day at school was the happiest day of my life. I’ve never missed a single day of school since then.

At school, I asked my teacher, “Who is sending us this food?” The teacher told me that it was you, and many more people like you. She told me that you made a special contribution to help Akshaya Patra make this meal for me. I can’t tell you how grateful I am to you, and to Akshaya Patra. That is why I am writing you this letter today, to thank you. I cannot imagine my life without this meal and without this school.

Please keep up the good work. I will also send you letters from time to time, telling you about what is happening in my life.
Yours sincerely,

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Food and Education

A Plate Full of Wellbeing


Ever wondered how Akshaya Patra decides what is right for its beneficiaries? Here is the answer.
The Akshaya Patra Foundation works towards providing the right kind of food to the children with guidance from the Government. After much discussion and research, we decide the daily menu for the children. Below are excerpts from an interview with our nutrition specialist at the Foundation.

1. How is the right quantity of nutrients determined for each child?
The right quantity of nutrients for each child has been determined as per the National Programme of Mid Day Meal in Schools (MDMS) specified by the government of India.

As per their age group, certain norms are set pertaining to nutrition. A cooked midday meal should primarily provide 450 calories and 12 gm of protein to a child in the age group of 6-10 years. A child who is about 11 to 15 years of age needs a total of 700 Calories and 20 gm of Protein. These meals should also include micro nutrients like Iron, Folic Acid, Vitamin A and so on, in adequate quantities.

2. What are the top nutrients each child needs and how is Akshaya Patra ensuring they get these?
Children require different kinds of nutrients but most important are energy, protein, folic acid, vitamin A, iron, calcium and zinc.

The Akshaya Patra recipes contain different food groups (cereals, pulses, vegetables, spices, sugar and jaggery, edible oil and more) to ensure an adequate supply of nutrients.

The recipes are standardised by calculating nutritive values referring the NIN guidelines (nutritive value for Indians as per the National institute of Nutrition ICMR Hyderabad) and our recipes are verified through external lab analysis.

3. How is the quality standard of raw material maintained while procuring for the mid-day meal?
The quality of raw materials is ensured by Supplier Quality Management Programmes. The raw material specifications are circulated to suppliers to ensure they deliver good quality raw materials. The raw materials are thoroughly checked by the TAPF quality team before accepting them for use in the kitchen.

The raw materials need to meet the FSSAI (Food Safety and Standards Authority of India) and AGMARK specifications. They are stored following proper storage practices and are utilised as per FIFO (First In First Out) FEFO (First Expiry First Out).

4. What are the health benefits of providing good nutrition?
It helps in overall growth and development of the body and helps to prevent micronutrient deficiencies such as anaemia, vitamin A deficiency and so on. Good nutrition is also scientifically proven to aid the cognitive development of growing children, a factor vital towards helping children succeed in school.

5. Has there been a marked difference in the health of children consuming the mid-day meal (physically and mentally)?
Yes, sufficient intake of the meals has helped and continues to help in the overall development of children belonging to underprivileged sections of the society. It has also helped curb issues like malnutrition, mortality rates, stunted mental and physical growth in underserved children.
The mid-day meal has helped eradicate classroom hunger. Children are now able to concentrate in the classroom and there is an increased participation in extracurricular activities as well.

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Food and Education

The recipe for success


It is no secret that food brings millions of children to school every day. That’s why we’ve made it our mission to give them well-balanced meals, and a foundation for life through education. We have strived to provide children with an alternative future, one that is stronger, brighter and full of possibilities. We have cooked one healthy meal after another, combining our food with special ingredients, and creating a recipe for success.
So what are the special ingredients that go into this recipe for success?


This is the key ingredient in making any dish tasty. Our staff prepares each meal with care, going over the most minute details. They are dedicated to the cause of educating children by giving them wholesome meals.

Schooling basics

If a child needs to succeed, his/her foundation needs to be solid. Education can help do that. The food brings them to schools, and here they learn everything they need to know to change their destinies.

Supportive parents

By providing food at schools, we are giving parents every reason to send their children to school. Their nurturing guidance and encouragement can help children go a long way.

Good nourishment

This is at the heart of our programme. We give children what they cannot otherwise get; a good, healthy meal. The food we provide gives them a burst of energy that keeps them active for school and after.

With these key ingredients, we have cooked many a happy meal. It has helped many children escape the bonds of child labour and get back into schools.

What do you have to say about our recipe for success? Leave us a comment and let us know.

If you would also like to help us stir up a special pot of success, click here.

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Food and Education

What makes every Akshaya Patra meal a balanced diet


A balanced diet is one which contains a proper concentration of essential nutrients like proteins, vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates and so on, that help the body function well and maintain good health. This is a necessity in every individual. However, a balanced diet in children is an absolute necessity. At The Akshaya Patra Foundation, we don’t just prepare meals for children; we make sure that every meal that reaches our beneficiaries is enriched with the required components for their physical, cognitive and mental development.

Vitamins and Minerals: Beetroot, cabbage, cauliflower and carrots are the most common ingredients found in the mid-day meal on any given day. These are rich in vitamins and minerals that are highly responsible for the mental growth and cognitive development in children.

Carbohydrates: The Akshaya Patra kitchens situated in the Southern region of India prepare rice to suit the local palate, whereas in the North, we provide Rotis to the children. Both the varieties contain sufficient amount of carbohydrates that help store energy in the body. This helps children stay active all through the day.

Proteins: Spinach, potatoes and pulses like lentils and beans are regularly used in the mid-day meals. A major advantage of these vegetables is that they are low in saturated fat and high in fibre which helps keep the body fit and active while also regulating the body’s metabolism.

What’s more, even the ingredients used in garnishing all the vegetable dishes like curry leaves, cardamom, coriander, cumin seeds, cloves and so on, also have some nutritional concentration in them. At every Akshaya Patra kitchen across 10 states and 22 locations in India, there is no compromise when it comes to including nutritional ingredients in the meal that a child is about to consume.

At our kitchens, we strongly believe that childhood is a sensitive period of development when growth occurs and we want to provide our children with all the nutrients they need to succeed in life.

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